Cream, Stones albums mastered at 'half-speed'

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Iconic albums by the Rolling Stones, Cream and Free have been re-cut at Abbey Road using a vinyl “half-speed mastering” process.

The Stones’ Exile On Main Street, Disraeli Gears by Cream, Free’s Fire And Water, Ghost In The Machine by The Police, John Martyn’s Solid Air and Simple Minds album New Gold Dream have been pressed on on 180g vinyl and come with deluxe packaging that includes a certificate of authenticity from Abbey Road.

The half-speed mastering process is said to bring “a superior listening experience with a new level of depth and clarity.”

Miles Showell, one of the world’s leading exponents of half-speed cutting, was in charge of the process at Abbey Road.

He says: “Anything recorded in a professional studio that still sounds good, is going to benefit from being half-speed mastered. That’s the beauty of it.

“You don’t need the world’s greatest turntables, and with a moderately reasonable hi-fi deck, something you order for about £200 or up from there, you’d easily hear the difference between a normal cut and a half-speed cut.

“If the source isn’t good enough, I won’t be doing it. I’m not here to try to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. I want to make sure that everything I’ve got is good. So, if there’s no high quality source to work from, there’s not a lot of point.”

Showell’s notes on the benefits of half-speed mastering state: “The vinyl LP is an analogue sound carrier. Therefore the size and shape of the groove carrying the music is directly related to whatever the music is doing at any particular point.

“By reducing the speed by a factor of two, the recording stylus has twice as long to carve the intricate groove into the master lacquer. Also, any difficult to cut high-frequency information becomes fairly easy to cut mid-range.

“The result is a record that is capable of extremely clean and un-forced high-frequency response as well as a detailed and solid stereo image.”

The vinyl sets are released on April 15 and are available for pre-order now at The Sound Of Vinyl.

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Miles Showell

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